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The Clarksville Civil War Roundtable’s next meeting is April 18th, 2012


The 97th  Meeting

Clarksville Civil War RoundtableClarksville, TN – The next meeting of the Clarksville (TN) Civil War Roundtable will be on Wednesday, April 18th at the Bone & Joint Center, 980 Professional Park Drive, right across the street from Gateway Hospital. This is just off Dunlop Lane and Holiday Drive and only a few minutes east of Governor’s Square mall. The meeting begins at 7:00pm and is always open to the public. Members please bring a friend or two – new recruits are always welcomed.

The meetings topic is “Civil War Arkansas 1863: The Battle for a State”

In 1863, Union commanders began a concentrated campaign to gain control of the Arkansas River valley and split the Trans-Mississippi Confederacy in half. In January, Union commander John McClernand, a political general from Illinois, sought to upstage Ulysses S. Grant especially after his failed attempt to take Vicksburg in December 1862.

Gathering an army and with naval support, McClernand went after Fort Hindman, better known as Arkansas Post, which protected the Arkansas River approach to the state capital of Little Rock. After a battle, McClernand was able to capture the entire garrison earning a rare victory and gloating rights over Grant. This set into motion a series of battles to control Arkansas that would take the rest of the year.

In early July, 1863, while battles at Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and the Tullahoma Campaign waged, Confederate forces attacked the fortified Union garrison at Helena, Arkansas. If they took the town, they could again cut the Mississippi River perhaps offsetting, somewhat, the pending defeat at Vicksburg. But they were repulsed after several assaults and heavy casualties.

After this, Union General Frederick Steele, Grant’s West Point classmate, took a force to take the state capital of Little Rock. Plagued by disease and Confederate defense, Steele finally took the city in September 1863. In October, the Confederates struck back seeking to capture Pine Bluff on the Arkansas River and cut Federal supply lines.  A stout Union defense threw back their assaults and held the town.

Supporting all of this was the Union victory in the Indian Territory which secured the western portion of Arkansas.  Other than raids, Arkansas remained in Federal hands for the rest of the war.

Our speaker, Mark Christ, probably knows more about the war in Arkansas than anyone around.  His most recent book covers the campaigns that will be the subject of his program for the Nashville CWRT.  Many of these will not be that well known, save possibly Helena, but the importance of them is little appreciated.  Offsetting Vicksburg could have been one result had the Confederates won at Helena and Arkansas Post.  Mark will have his books for sale at the meeting.

Mark Christ is community outreach director for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage. He joined the AHPP in 1990 after eight years as a professional journalist. A 1982 graduate of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, he received his Master’s degree in 2000 from the University of Oklahoma, where he wrote a thesis based on the Little Rock Campaign of 1863.

He is a member of the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, serves as vice chairman of the board of directors of the Arkansas Humanities Council and is a member of the board of trustees of the Arkansas Historical Association.

He has written and edited several books, including “Rugged and Sublime” The Civil War in Arkansas; Sentinels of History: Reflections on Arkansas Properties Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which won an Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History; “Getting Used To Being Shot At”: The Spence Family Civil War Letters; “All Cut to Pieces and Gone to Hell;”  The Civil War, Race Relations and the Battle of Poison Spring, “The Earth Shook and Trees Trembled”: Civil War Arkansas 1863-1864, and “The Die is Cast: Arkansas Goes to War, 1861”.

The University of Oklahoma Press just published his newest book, Civil War Arkansas, 1863: The Battle for a State, which won the 2010 Douglas Southall Freeman Award.

Please join us as Mark Chris of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program tells us much more about the Civil War in Arkansas in 1863.




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